Thursday, March 21, 2024

The Sea Trade Monitor

map of the world showing maritime trade routes and recent disruptions caused to maritime trade

PortWatch is a new platform which monitors disruptions to global maritime trade. The platform uses real-time data on ship traffic and maritime trade to provide an alert system on trade disruptions likely to impact shipping trade routes. 

Recent attacks by Houthi rebels on ships traversing the Red Sea have helped to highlight how marine trade is vulnerable to geopolitical instability.. These attacks have forced many shipping companies to reroute vessels around the southern tip of Africa, adding significant time and expense to maritime trade. 

Disruptions to international sea trade can have major economic consequences. In March 2021, when the container ship the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez canal, one of the world's most crucial waterways was blocked for several days. The blockage impacted the movement of a wide range of goods, from consumer products to essential supplies like oil, and it was estimated to have cost billions of dollars per day in lost trade. 

screenshot of the PortWatch Spillover Simulator

The possible global impact of disruptions to maritime trade is why the International Maritime Fund and Oxford University have partnered to release their new PortWatch maritime trade platform. The platform includes an interactive map of Recent Maritime Trade Disruptions. This map plots incidents which have caused disruptions to maritime trade and the ports which have been affected by these disruptions. 

The disruptions mapped by PortWatch include geopolitical conflicts (such as the disruptions caused to trade in the Red Sea by the Houthi rebels) and disruptions caused by severe weather events (such as the ongoing disruption to traffic through the Panama canal due to severe drought conditions).

The Portwatch platform also includes an interactive Spillover Simulator, which allows anyone to simulate a disruption to a particular maritime port and view the likely effect of the disruption on economies around the world. The simulator models the effects of specific port disruptions on the global maritime transport network, on the port's trading partners, and on the supply chain network.

If you want to monitor real-time ship traffic (which can be very useful in visualizing the real-time effects of specific disruption events to maritime trade) then you can use the interactive maps provided by MarineTraffic and VesselFinder.

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